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Automation in private aviation: Why achieving balance will prove key

Kyle Patel, Executive Director of global private jet provider BitLux, believes that while automation will continue gaining ground in the industry for the foreseeable future, humans will remain irreplaceable in various steps of the travel experience.

Automation has provided countless benefits to the aviation industry. For starters, it’s been responsible for increased safety and overall reliability, thus allowing major advances in incident and accident reduction. Yet, history has also taught us that some incidents have been an outcome of excessive automation in cockpits while training pilots still stick to more traditional practices to learn stick-and-rudder skills. As often in life, finding the right balance is easier said than done.

Overall, automation has improved the aviation industry, both in the commercial and private segments. Nevertheless, there is one area where the human touch is irreplaceable: providing a tailor-made service. In fact, the private jet experience almost entirely depends on people and their ability to adapt to last-minute situations. While commercial aviation worldwide has implemented smart check-in machines at airports, private aviation thrives by providing a personal concierge-type service that allows the industry to provide an unparalleled travel experience.

While private jet cockpits also possess the latest technology and automation materials for a safer flight, the success of what happens before, during, and after the flight depends entirely on humans and their capacity to understand the culture, and customs in a certain location, speak different languages and build a long-lasting relationship with customers.

Then again, the right balance will certainly achieve more. Automation also allows passengers to charter private jet flights and find out about last-minute discounted opportunities. It allows private jet providers like BitLux to source the best available certified aircraft around the world for our clients while optimizing the service order flow. It also enables private jet companies to streamline their business operations by improving how available assets are used, how to reduce costs, and also understanding consumer behavior shifts that can impact seasonal demand.

Historically, private aviation has been known for being an industry where the backend lacked efficiency and the use of technology. It also has been an industry that understood consumer preferences and the buyer persona really well. Yet after the pandemic, the need to adapt to new consumer behavior has been paramount and the use of technology to achieve this goal has been key. A new set of expectations and clients can be better served by using technology and automation – you can register consumer preferences and better tailor the private jet experience.

Single-pilot operation debate

I can’t speak about automation without addressing the elephant in the room. A hot topic worth debating, although a decision may come at the end of this decade, is single-pilot operations (SPO). While the move initiated by EASA to gradually introduced SPO affects commercial aviation, I think private aviation actors in the industry also have an important role to play. There is a wide array of private jets certified for private SPO, while only a multi-pilot cabin is approved for the same aircraft when flying for commercial purposes.

I am not here to state that either one is the safest option, only to introduce the debate that all needed stakeholders must be involved in the discussion in order to obtain a positive outcome. I believe public perception will play a huge role in determining the feasibility of this measure and if ultimately, they perceive it as safe. Education and frequent information are therefore a must. While we are still years away from implementation, I believe the single-pilot discussion is the next breakthrough in aviation as a whole, commercial, private, and also for the fascinating air mobility ecosystem – having an early stance will only improve the outcome for end users.

In essence, private aviation in comparison to its commercial counterpart will thrive with the right balance between automation and the human touch. The private jet experience and its unparalleled flexibility and reliability are simply not possible if you take humans out of the equation. This is a topic that we openly discuss with our clients, who value that the industry is adding technology to its ground and airborne processes, yet they always conclude that the best trait of the industry is the possibility to personalize every step in the process while engaging with a person.

BitLux delivers various services across the air charter industry, but Executive Travel is closest to heart. Whether you are flying for business or leisure, BitLux provides a top-tier private jet service that actively exceeds expectations.